Tag Archives: Kids

The Economics of Curious George

6 Jun

Have you ever asked where The Man gets his money? Not the man you’re thinking of, the Man in the Yellow Hat, the guy who “owns” Curious George. Where does he get those wonderful toys?

I can’t believe I’ve pontificated on this topic before; when my kids were much younger, I watched a lot of cartoons. The PBS Kids lineup was the best of the bunch; there’s a LOT of crap out there. [The worst was a Portuguese show called “Nutriventures: Quest for the Seven Kingdoms.” Teaching kids about eating a balanced diet–it is the worst written edutainment.] However, despite it being enjoyable, well-written, and teaching kids about math, it had one nagging flaw. The Man seems to have a lot of time on his hands to pursue these hobbies that lead to his monkey getting into trouble. Where does the Man in the Yellow Hat get his money?!

The obvious answer is “Who cares? It’s a kids’ show!” But I watched a LOT of episodes – the Man mentions going to work ONCE. He has an apartment in the City, a car, a house in the country, and he does a lot of volunteer work for Dr. Wiseman at the science museum (who I’m convinced is secretly boning, but they don’t want to explain it to the monkey). Oh, and he takes care of a monkey. None of this cheap.

For those who are fans of the books, the original Curious George (written in 1941) is very dated. Let’s walk right past a white guy going to Africa and stealing a monkey and all that entails, and go right to the Man, the sailors, the cops, and the MONKEY all smoking a pipe. I’m a pipe smoker in 2022 and thought this was a bit oogie. The firemen don’t even have fire trucks; they still use hook-and-ladders! The cops use a party-line windup phone. But the monkey breaks out of a jail that Alexandre Dumas would have considered ridiculous, somehow lands back with the Man, and gets put in a zoo where he has a great time. Subsequent books have the Man taking George out of the zoo on trips for his misadventures.

The PBS Show doesn’t even bother explaining their origin story, because frankly, if you’re watching, you already know. But the first episode has the Man going to work… and never again. Probably because he realized the chaos that one little monkey can get into with him not there. Of course, the Man doesn’t realize his lesson. Then in a following episode, he sells his drawings to a children’s museum in Paris, and that’s when I realized, “Ah ha! He made the big time–he’s independently wealthy!” But still, a freelance artist might be able to afford the apartment, but what about the country house… and the car?

We meet Bill, the (east) Indian boy who thinks George is a “city kid,” and is really, REALLY annoying. Why does The Man put up with this guy? Then we have a flash-back to The Man’s childhood acting just like Bill in the same country house. That’s when two things occur to me. A) Bill reminds the Man of himself, which it why he can away with lines like “magnetism is my favorite invisible force.” Then B) he inherited the country house from his parents, now passed… or living in Florida, but either way, we never EVER see them.

Okay, that covers almost all bases, except for maybe the red-headed niece who plays with George who appears in Season 2. She I can’t figure out, but then again, I haven’t seen the show in six years… maybe more recent episodes explore that deeper. But I doubt it. By the time your cartoon-loving kid cares about such issues, they’re off to WordGirl (also, frickin’ brilliant) so they never have to face these economic questions about their kids’ universe. However, a warning to those parents out there; not all the PBS lineup is brilliant. Arthur is middling, Clifford the Big Red Dog asks more questions than are ever answered, and we must find a way to kill Caillou. Caillou must die! That French-Canadian mother-f#(@*# needs to taste the end of my… (breathe, damn you, breathe)

Whew. Sorry, almost lost it there. Now my son keeps wanting to feed me Family Guy and League of Legends. At least there’s internal consistency there. 🙂 Have you ever had to connect the plot holes of a universe before just to save your sanity? Let me know in the comments below!

Whatever you’re doing, it’s not enough.

26 Feb

Every so often, my wife makes me read non-fiction books. If she’s read them as well, then they’re pretty good. Then there are the books she suggests “you should really educate yourself.” So reading a book about raising daughters turned out to be an exercise in futility.

Naturally, I want to be a good father to my daughter. She’ll be hitting puberty any day now and it’s important to be prepared for lots of things. So I ended up reading Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker, MD. I mean, after all, she has an MD after her name, she must know something, right? And she does cover a lot of different topics. Things to do, things not to do. How to be supportive, but allow her to independent. Girls are different than boys (I know, radical statement), so naturally how they approach different milestones is different than how I would approach it with my son. Plus, since he’s my clone, I can understand him a whole lot better, because I’ve been through most of the same situations.

But with girls, I don’t have the same experiences, so I read this in order to be ready. After a few chapters, I noticed a pattern. The chapter would start off with 1) Here’s what you do, 2) here’s what you don’t do, but as they get older, 3) something outside your control might screw up all your hard work. For example, a father “is the first man a daughter falls in love with.” Model healthy relationships, treat her with respect and love, show her how she should be treated with friends and family. However, they might fall for a guy who treats them like crap, and this causes emotional scarring that will undo a lot of the work you did before.

Thanks, Meg.

So what you’re saying is “the only thing you can really control is how your daughter perceives you.” Life has a way of taking you places you weren’t expecting to go. (That really should be one of my maxims.) Fair enough. Often when I don’t feel like playing with my kids, when they prompt me, I do it anyway. Because I think of it as an investment in the future. “Remember that guy who took care of you and played with you the first 20 years of your life? You don’t want to throw that old guy out on the streets, right?” 🙂

So putting Meg’s advice aside, perhaps the best advice was one that I read was a post that said, “I want you to have bad sex.” (I wish I could find it.) It was beautifully written, but it was a father writing to his daughter saying, “I want you have all these experiences. Some of them will be bad, some will be good, but I want you to have them all.” So if all I can control is my own actions, then I’m going to do the best with my daughter… but accept I can’t control what happens when she goes out the door.

I don’t wrap her in bubble wrap, but comfort her when things go wrong. I have to accept things will go wrong. That’s the true strength of being a father–seeing your kids go on without you. And the easier you make that at the beginning, the easier it will be when they finally leave.

But I could be talking out of my behind–what do you think? Is there a better book that gives advice to fathers? Is there advice you wish your dad told you? Let me know in the comments below!

Trapped with a Filmmaker

25 Aug

So while my wife was helping her mom transition out of the hospital to home life, the kids went with her to hang out with their cousins. However, their aunt likes to make films, so it didn’t take long for them to be drawn into one of Aunt Elea’s projects…

The result is Snack Shorts which are three short films. It’s actually the same script done three different ways, but it shows you what you can do with five bored kids, some time, and an empty Goldfish box.

So she’s exploiting my kids and I get an associate producer credit. That’s okay – my kids exploit me all the time. 🙂 Actually, my son really wants to be an actor, and with the COVID taking out all of his acting opportunities, he really appreciated the chance to perform.

In return, I got a very nice video, they get some great memories, and I need to share the love with everyone else. Any good kid exploitation stories to share? Tell me in the comments below!

Strongly-Supplied Summer Stock

17 Aug

My son loves theater, which is like saying ducks like water. So when my dad offered to show off his community theater in Nebraska, Asher couldn’t wait to see it. I was expecting this low-budget amateur place in the middle of a cornfield. Well… I was right about the cornfield!

The Lofte Community Theatre in eastern Nebraska has been around for 40 years and has amassed this amazing treasure trove of costumes, set decorations, and construction materials.

Apparently they started off in a red barn, so when they built a new building, they built it to look like a red barn, but inside is a gorgeous 400-seat theater. They normally do several productions a year, but naturally that’s been rather difficult.

Dad told us that the most common expression is that “I didn’t know this was here!” Which is NOT what you want when you run a theater. 🙂

Asher was over the moon to check this place out, and it was REALLY impressive. Have you found one of these jewels where you least expect it? Let me know in the comments below!

Gone to Texas

6 Jul

I’m a free man (for all of two weeks)! My wife and kids (and one cat) are going off to Texas. Now before all those panicked folks chime in, my wife is going to help her mom out of a rehab hospital that has staff members with COVID. So before my “I’m living off 60% oxygen” mother gets infected with a respiratory disease, they’re getting her out. It’s the Great Escape, except with grandmas instead of Steve McQueen.

Which leads to me getting the house to myself for a while, which is something I’ve seriously missed. Before the *#$&$ virus, I worked from home, which means I would go out to the cafe in the early morning, come back home when the wife and kids took off for school, and not see them again until I picked up the kids at 3 pm. So now I’ve had them all in the same house, all the #$*$#&$ time, for four months straight. My wife doesn’t like to get out unless she has someone to hang out with, so that’s been right. Almost all of my kids’ friends are scared *##$&$@ to meet anyone, so they can’t get out either.

The only saving grace has been Panera Bread, which sounds strange, but once things opened up it has been the only place my teenage son can easily bike to. It also doesn’t cost much to sit there for a couple hours, so he’s been happy to get out and hang there out of the house. My daughter has been in summer school / camp (it’s a camp held by her school) until recently and miserable that she doesn’t get to stay home with her brother.

Well, the kids are thrilled, because they get to hang out with their cousins (that they rarely see – but damn, it’s other kids to play with!), in a big house (because everything’s bigger in Texas), and my wife gets to bore the #*($ out of her sisters with her politics, what the orange man is doing now, and whatever the #*$&# she feels is so damned important.

Whew… I really needed this break!

So at what point in the marriage do you think you need to get away from your spouse for a while? In my case, two years, but having my first kid does tend to complicate things. Put your answer in the comments below!

When Dinosaurs Invade

5 Jul

Somebody did a nice thing for us – they stuck dinosaurs in our yard! At first blush, this doesn’t sound like a great idea, but in this case, the dinosaurs were plastic… about two feet high, and sprinkled in with 13 and 10 number signs and a wish for a happy birthday!

You see, both my kids have birthdays in July… in fact, they’re a few days and three years apart from each other. Since the #*$&% that is Coronavirus has happened, they see few of their friends, they can’t get out to many of the same places they used to, and they’ve been mostly stuck at home. Mind you, having birthdays in July suck because most of your friends are somewhere else, but they’re great because you don’t have to go to school!

So someone did something really nice – they hired this company called Flamingos by Night to put a bunch of signs overnight in front of our house, left some t-shirts and stuffie flamingos on our doorstep, and gave a really big surprise to our kids when they woke up. We live in an apartment complex, so it was really amusing to all the dogwalkers in our community, too. I forgot to take a picture, so I took one off their website.

What’s something you can – or have done – in the Age of Coronavirus? Leave your nice thing in the comments below!

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